Visiting The Sahara is a must do on any Moroccan vacation but be prepared for the extensive driving! It’s worth it.
After spending 5 hours with a travel agent in Morocco, who happened to be a friend’s dad, we had our Sahara trip planned. Although, as it turned out, we hardly knew what we were in for.
We ended up navigating more than 1520km (944 miles) in total, crossing from one side of Morocco to the other and back in 4 days.
Self-Drive, Tour Bus or Chauffer?
We were expecting to go with a tour bus or drive on our own but were pleasantly surprised when we got offered the option to have a chauffeur for the cost of $25 a day. Well, why not? We were in charge of the gas, but the rest was up to the man in front.
Our driver, a friendly suave French man, opened our doors, carried our backpacks & drove us around the world (what it felt like). The only problem… he didn’t speak a word of English and we didn’t speak a word of French. Needless to say there was a lot of sign language, butchered French words, a lot of awkward giggling, head nodding and thumbs up action.
Luckily, we had previously downloaded an app Lonely Planet Fast Talk that allowed us to have the most common phrases written & recorded in French, so when needed, we just played these to him. This came in extremely handy when we were lost and we knew the way and he didn’t!
Marrakech to The Sahara & Back
En route to Mezourga, a desert bordering with Algeria, we stopped at various places and explored many Kasbah’s (villages). Most notable were the following:
Ait Ben Haddou:
Ait Ben Haddou is a fortified city along the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech.
There are only 4 families still living in this very old city, the rest are living in modern homes in nearby villages. They also filmed Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Cleopatra and many more films here.
We were given a local guide who spoke 6 languages to take us around the Kasbah. We were shown the ways to make bread, cous cous and cheese and told many different stories from the past.
After exploring for 3 hours in the blasting sun we enjoyed a typical Moroccan lunch at Chez Brahim, also a hotel.
Visiting a small village by the name of Tamegroute, we were taken to Poterie Berber, where we were shown how the locals make the various plates, pots, tagines, flower pots etc. A local guide took us around and we walked away with a mini souvenir tagine.
We also visited the Cooperatieve des Artisans Amezrou and saw how they made Moroccan jewellery, decorations, and woodwork.
Todra Gorge & Dades
Our next stop was to the amazing Todra Gorge, a 300m rock wall carved deep into the High Atlas Mountains, oozing out fresh water for locals to swim in and ample rocks to climb.
Hamman & Massage Experience
An interesting and very unique experience we had in Morocco was having a ‘hamman’, or turkish bath. In a nut shell, you strip down to nothing (yes, nothing), enter a hot cave or room, lie down on a warm bench and a female member of the staff washes & scrubs you down with a corse cloth. Slightly uncomfortable at first, but after a while it seemed normal(ish). Afterwards, we received a massage of choice.
Once we arrived at our hotel, Riad Madu + their off site camp site (highly, highly recommend) in Mezourga, a 4WD took us to the camels to ride to our camp in the middle of the desert.
After a slightly uncomfortable hour on the camel’s back we arrived at our campsite. Expecting a camp site with a basic pitched tent; we were pleasantly surprised with our “glamp” site. Aka glamorous camp site. We hopped off our camel’s back and saw a fire blazing, a plate of mint tea & biscuits waiting.
We scoffed this down & were shown our tent. Inside we were surprised with a lounge area, queen bed, heated bathroom ensuite and power plugs (yes!). The only thing missing was WiFi, but who needs that in The Sahara?
As if this wasn’t enough already, we were fed an 8 course Moroccan dinner under the stars. Following dinner, the Moroccan’s sung & played us some local music on their drums and we went to bed very happy humans.
To top off the trip, we woke up early to watch the sun rise over the Sahara. A truly unforgettable experience.
After a buffet style breakfast, we took a 4WD back over the sand dunes to meet our driver to begin our drive back to Marrakech.
What can top this? We’ll have to wait and see.
Marriage days survived: 38